The Desecration of the Kombi

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By EUGENIO BUCCI*

The commercial for the German brand is an offensive debacle against art, Brazilian music and the cultural memory of Brazil

On Monday, July 10, the National Advertising Self-Regulation Council (Conar) opened representation to evaluate a campaign that Volkswagen launched to celebrate its 70 years in Brazil. This means that there is an ethical problem in the advertisement. It got boring for everyone. What most bothered the less insensitive audiences was the trick whereby the singer Elis Regina, who died 41 years ago, was asked to interpret a song by Belchior while driving a Kombi in the wrong direction.

You must have seen it on TV or on the internet. It is not something pleasing to the eye. Not even to the ears. With all due respect to car exhausts, the commercial for the German brand is an offensive disgrace to art, to Brazilian music, to the memory of those who have already left this country for the unknown and, above all, to people who, because they have not yet died, have had to be exposed to such an atrocity.

What Conar decides now does not matter. The most crucial thing, in this macabre hour, is to understand, with a critical judgment, why advertising feels authorized to turn the cultural heritage of an entire people into this monstrous mass. What was this? How did this become possible?

The Volkswagen commercial allowed itself edit Belchior's classical composition, Like our parents. In fact, what they did was cut up the lyrics, the bars, the tempo. The line “you say that after them no one else appeared” disappeared from the map, although it was the nerve center of the poet's intention. Maybe he was taken out of there for that very reason. Someone subjected his work to a perverse lobotomy, along with other topical amputations. And all this in the name of what? From selling automotive vehicles? Belchior, who used to sing “last year I died, but this year I don't die”, died again. And again, and again. There he is, dying in prime time.

As for Elis Regina, she was exhumed by bad tricks that, according to what was advertised, had the help of artificial intelligence. Why, gentlemen. Why, ladies. Have bad taste. Let there be apostasy. There is profanity. The Kombi, one of our most innocent, most precious memories, reappears in the role of a coffin of artificial living dead at the service of entertainment, as in a parade of Frankensteinian beings without feet, without head, without heart and without spirit.

Yes, we have already seen a million times small masterpieces of the songbook being mutilated by the scalpels of what they call “the soul of the business”. Yes, this is nothing new. the self proclaimed gang technology throws people's affective memories into titanium blenders and turns them into a mess of audiovisual defects that have no principle, no shame, no sense of aesthetic responsibility. It's always been like this, we already know.

Or, let's be less vague, it's been like this since industrial newspapers began to circulate in big cities. But now, frankly, what to make of this wild dissection? Do these people have no respect for Belchior, who died in 2017? Don't you pay any reverence to Elis Regina? Is there no place for consternation in the greed of advertisers and in the vanity of marketers?

In the merchandising market, age (70 years!) is not synonymous with maturity, meekness, serenity, but with an adolescent frenzy surrounding “vile metal” – an expression that Volkswagen also had the whim to expel from the market. Belchior's letter. Sad end of poetry.

Once again it is proved that the strategies of the advertising they constitute the cemetery of art, even if they make use, here and there, of subterfuges that from afar resemble the expedients of genuine artists. In the packed Kombi campaign, Belchior and Elis Regina are evoked as remnants of what they were. Pieces of yourself. Rusted carcasses. Junk yard.

But it's not just in advertising. Entertainment – ​​which encompasses advertising – functions as its own uninterrupted advertisement, as if it were an expanded advertising market. Many people of good will still see islands of sublime beauty in the immense mass of entertainment, but it is doubtful. Above all, entertainment operates as a business – and only residually makes use of a potpourri of fallen arts.

Its purpose is to captivate audiences to make them, as the verb foretells, captive – prisoners, “loyal”, captive. Where art unleashes the human imagination, entertainment trains. Where the artist reveals, entertainment forbids. Where art disrupts what was known and opens portals that let us see, in a fleeting glimpse, the challenging face of things we don't know, entertainment builds its corrals of influence and command.

“What is the aura?” Walter Benjamin once asked himself, thinking about this mystery in the work of art. He himself answered: “It is a singular figure, composed of spatial and temporal elements: the unique apparition of a distant thing, however close it may be”. You don't find that in entertainment, except as a lapse or a forgery. As for the rest, what we have left is to board the apocalyptic Kombi.

* Eugene Bucci He is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of Uncertainty, an essay: how we think about the idea that disorients us (and orients the digital world) (authentic).

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